Hell Is Real derby; Part II

FC Cincinnati drops all three points to Columbus Crew SC in the intrastate battle.


Soccer, the beautiful game, the world’s sport.

Soccer is a growing sport in the United States. A key contributor of the growth is FC Cincinnati, Major League Soccer (MLS), and the biggest rivalry in the league: The Hell is Real Derby.

It all started in 2017. FC Cincinnati had just beat arch rival Louisville City FC of the United Soccer League (USL) in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. FC Cincinnati drew the Columbus Crew in the fourth round of the Cup, the first round MLS teams can enter. FC Cincinnati had beaten Louisville 1-0, with a goal by club legend Djiby Fall in the 48th minute. With Columbus being so close in proximity, only a two-hour drive and FC Cincy fighting for an MLS expansion spot, the fans knew that this was going to be a big game and rivalry. ( www.mlssoccer.com )

Prior to this matchup, FCC won the First Hell Is Real Derby in 2017, 1-0 by a double headed goal by Djiby Fall and had never lost a game to Columbus. Leg one finished in a 2-2 draw.

FC Cincinnati has had really bad form as of late with a record prior to the match of 5-3-18. In the first leg they had played really well on the attack in the first half and played good defense for about 60 minutes. With a 2-0 lead, FCC allowed a push in the box by Mikel Van Der Werff and Gyasi Zardes scored followed by Pedro Santos to tie it up 2-2. This was the build up for the real match, part II of this derby, in front of real fans.

Fans from far and wide in Cincinnati and Columbus, New York and Dallas gathered together at historic Nippert Stadium for the second leg of this young derby. Supporters groups met before at their local pubs to enjoy a cold one with the boys in preparation for the 3,000 man march to Nippert Stadium starting from Mecklenburg Gardens all the way to Hang Over Easy and to the Bearcat statue by Fifth Third area and into the stadium. The fans are what drive the rivalry.

FC Cincinnati started the match off in a 4-3-3 false 9 formation with Caleb Stanko in a defensive midfield position. Columbus lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Will Trapp and Artur in a CDM role as well as Zardes as the lone striker. The match started out with a bang in the 21st minute, Gyasi Zardes scored a left footed shot from the center of the box to the top right corner to give the Crew the lead.

After the first half, FC Cincinnati trailed 3-0. Both teams were tied in possession and both teams had four yellow cards a piece. In the 89th minute, FCC was able to score a weak footed shot by Kekuta Manneh to bring the score to 3-1 Crew. The Crew took the Hell Is Real Derby 5-3 on aggregate (2-2) (3-1).

Andrew Wiebe of MLS Soccer.com said, “The Hell is Real Derby is one for the ages. This team and organization were built organically, literally out of nothing. FC Cincinnati’s fan base has launched this club into orbit and it describes American soccer to a tee.”